Christianity 201

December 6, 2017

About Angels

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:35 pm
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With Advent begun and Christmas approaching, we see an increase in renderings of angels, even in secular environments. Angels can often be seen as a peripheral aspect of Christian theology, and it’s true that many people who are not truly followers of Christ can get caught up in themes such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, the supernatural and things relating to the perceived presence of angels.

If for no other reason, it’s good to know a little more about this topic than most of us do. Today we’re returning to the website and trust me, this is just a very, very small part of a much longer piece there on this topic. So you are strongly urged to click the link, and read the two sections which precede this one, and then be aware of the material which follows.

Angelogy: the Study of Angels

The Purpose of Angels

1) God, the Creator, existed before His creation (Jn.1:1-3). It is important to remember that angels, for all their temporary superiority to mankind, are creatures too. God, the Creator of the universe, of time and of space, existed (and exists) before the universe and outside of it. Angels, on the other hand, as creatures, can only exist within the creation, and are, therefore, subject to time and space. Though their capabilities currently surpass those of human beings, they are still “fellow servants” of God, and subordinate to Him in every way (Rev.19:10; 22:9).

Before the mountains were born, or you gave birth to the earth and world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
Psalm 90:2

2) God was self-sufficient before He created the universe, and is so now (Is.40:21-26). God did not “need” to create the universe, or angels, or mankind, or anything, for that matter. He is perfect and has no needs whatsoever. This was true before His first act of creation, and remains and will remain so throughout the course of creature history and into eternity.

God, who created the universe and everything in it, even He who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples our hands have made, nor is He ministered to by the hands of men (as if He needed anything from us) – [on the contrary], He is the One who gives life and breath and everything else to us all.
Acts 17:24-25

3) God’s purpose in creating angels and mankind is for His glory and our good (Is.43:7; Eph.1:5-6; 1:11-12). God is the Potter, and all we His creatures are the clay, created for the praise of His glory, and His glory we shall praise on that day of eternity and forevermore (Is.29:16; 45:9; 64:8; Jer.18:4-6; Rom.9:21).

But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thy hand.
Isaiah 64:8  KJV

This is true not only of His creatures who respond to Him and follow Him and His Son, but also for those who have rejected His authority and His Son (Rm.14:11; Phil.2:10-11):

By Myself I have sworn. From my mouth a righteous word has gone forth, which will not be revoked, that every knee will bow to Me, and to Me every tongue will swear. And so they will acknowledge Me: “Only in the Lord are righteousness and might.” Before Him will come all who raged against Him and they will be put to shame.
Isaiah 45:23-24

Moreover, angels and mankind alike will praise Him for all His marvelous deeds on our behalf, for He is glorified by blessing us. This is the God with whom we have to do!

To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!
Revelation 5:13b  NIV

The Creation of Angels

At some undisclosed time following His creation of the heavens and the earth, God created the angels (Ps.148:2-5; Col.1:16). This event took place after the original ex nihilo (i.e., “out of nothing”) creation of the universe described Genesis 1:1, and before the restoration of the earth (described also at Job 38:4-7) which followed God’s initial judgment upon the universe because of Satan’s rebellion (the results of which are described in Genesis 1:2 and following). God created all angelic kind at this time (including Satan and all those who would eventually rebel against Him). Though some would come to choose against Him, all the angels were originally created holy (Deut.33:2; Ps.89:7; Mk.8:38; Lk.9:26). God gave each of them distinct duties and definite domains in which to exercise specified authority delegated by Him (Col.1:16; Eph.6:12; Heb.1:7 & 14; Jude 1:6).

The Nature of Angels

1) Angels are finite beings: As created beings, angels are dependent upon time and space. Though more powerful (2Thes.1:7; 2Pet.2:11), mobile (Gen.28:12) and knowledgeable (2Sam.14:20) than mankind, they are neither omniscient (Matt.24:36), nor omnipotent (Rom.8:38), nor omnipresent (Dan.10:13).

2) Angels are finite in number: Angels are often described as the “host of heaven” and otherwise compared to the innumerable stars (e.g., Job 25:3; Ps.103:20-21; Is.40:26 w. Lk.2:13), but although they are a highly organized group and quite numerous, it should be understood that they are not infinite in number, however large that undisclosed number may be (Deut.33:2; Ps.68:17; Dan.7:10; Heb.12:22; Rev.5:11). Further, angels are not subject to death (Lk.20:36), nor do they reproduce (Mk.12:25), leading us to the conclusion that their number has been the same since their collective creation.

3) Angels are different from human beings in significant respects: Unlike human beings, angels do not grow old, or hungry or tired. Angels are thus not subject to many of the more obvious material restraints that limit human activity and are, for the most part, completely invisible to us. However, angels can at times appear in bodily form (as in the case of the announcement of Christ’s birth: Lk.2:8-15), and can also affect the material world with great power (consider the angels who control the winds: Rev.7:1-3).

4) Angels are similar to human beings in significant respects: Like human beings, angels possess personality and individuality (as evidenced, for example, by joy: Job 38:4-7; Lk.15:10; desire: 1Pet.1:12; and choice: Jude 1:6). And like us, they are created to serve and worship God for His glory (Ps.103:20-21; 148:2; Matt.4:11; Heb.1:14; Rev.4:8).

5) Angels are temporarily superior to mankind: In terms of power and ability, the present angelic superiority to mankind is obvious in every passage of scripture in which they are described. This current angelic superiority significantly also extends to the area of longevity. While mankind is enjoying a sequential residence on earth (generation following generation), angelic kind has been experiencing a continuum of existence in heaven, even before the creation of Man. This longevity, combined with the fact that angels (though creatures like Man) are not subject to the same degree to the restraints and necessities of time and space that encumber mankind, undoubtedly contributes to their superior knowledge and wisdom as well. By its very essence, therefore, the angelic nature is superior to our present earthly human nature in terms of appearance, intellect, power, mobility and authority (2Pet.2:11).

6) Angels will ultimately be inferior to mankind: Angels will not always be superior to mankind. Just as our Lord’s humanity is, in resurrection, superior to angels in every way (Heb.1:4 – 2:18), so also we are destined to share that superiority with Him in our resurrection (1Cor.6:3; Heb.2:5).

7) Angels are acutely aware of and involved in human affairs: The involvement of angelic beings in human affairs is part and parcel of their role in promoting (or, in the case of the fallen angels, opposing) God’s plan for human history (see “Satan’s Rebellion” immediately below). On a more personal level, however, angels are also apparently extremely interested in observing human behavior in general and in the playing out of God’s plan in particular (1Tim.3:16; 5:21; 1Pet.1:10-12). This is particularly true in the case of the Son of Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. They were present at His birth (Lk.2:13-14), temptation (Matt.4:11), resurrection (Lk.24:4), ascension (Acts 1:10-11), and return (2Thes.1:7), evidence which underscores angelic interest in the most crucial phase of God’s plan, namely the life and work of the Messiah. By observation, angels are learning (to their joy in the case of the elect angels, to their sorrow in the case of the fallen angels) about the wisdom, the power, the grace and the mercy of God (cf. Lk.15:10; 1Cor.4:9; 11:10).

8) Angels should neither be worshiped nor disrespected: In any discussion of angels, it is important to keep in mind both their present superiority and their eventual subordination to us. Angels are not to be disrespected (Lk.10:20; 2Pet.2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10; cf. Rom.13:7), but neither are they to be worshiped (Rev.19:10; 22:9; cf. 2Ki.17:16; Jer.19:13; Col.2:18). This is especially important in regard to fallen angels. God counterbalances their evil efforts with the work and ministrations of His holy, elect angels. Therefore, although we are to have a healthy respect for the Adversary and his potential to oppose us (2Cor.2:11; Eph.6:11; 1Pet.5:8), we are not to be unduly terrified by him and his minions. And while we are to have an awareness and appreciation for the positive function of the elect angels on our behalf, we are not to be inordinately fixated upon them (especially since both their persons and their work are invisible to us). In neither case should we “go beyond what is written” in the Bible about angels, whether through excessive fear of Satanic influence or an exorbitant fascination with the ministrations of the holy angels.

I don’t usually repeat the link at the end as well, but there is so much to see in this article. Click this link to continue reading.

September 22, 2017

Basing Decision-Making on a Carnal Mind’s Senses

The title I used today — the author’s (below) was equally long — was the best way I could wrap my head around the insight from today’s writer. We’re paying a return visit to the blog of Justin Petrick Ministries. Click the title below to read at source.

What Does it Really Mean to Walk by Faith and Not by Sight?

What does it mean to “walk by faith and not by sight,” as instructed in 2 Corinthians 5:7? This is one of the main words of wisdom or instruction you hear one giving to another, when an individual doesn’t know what to do. But is the meaning of this verse really in the context of walking blindly as so commonly believed? No, it is not.

A more accurate translation of this verse is to walk by faith, and not by what is seen, or what appears to be.  It means to not be guided by this natural realm, or what you see and experience on this earth.  Specifically, it means to not make decisions based on a carnal mind, or by using your 5 senses.  There is a big difference in not allowing yourself to be guided by this earthly realm, and to walk blindly.

When we focus on the things of this world, we will desire this world and we will pursue what it has to offer. This relationship is discussed in Romans 7 when it speaks of carnality and the law of the mind.  It is natural for us to be guided by our carnal mind, or by what is seen.  On the other hand, God does not expect us to walk blindly in this world.  We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), we have access to the direction of the Holy Spirit who is intimately connected to us in this earthly realm that He guides our steps (Proverbs 16:9). God is so intimately connected to you that He desires to direct your steps.  To me, that is not walking blindly.  We can feel like were walking blindly when we are distracted from God’s presence, and we don’t hear His still small voice among the loud circumstances of everyday life.

But was does it mean to walk by faith? Just like God instructs us not to make decisions based on what we see, when we walk in faith, it is also speaking of our decision-making process. Let us look at the definition of faith in Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV): Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Most people believe faith is believing in what is not seen.  Although true, it is only half the definition in that they leave out the substance of hope.  Substance means something that you can tangibly see, or measure objectively. In other words, when one has faith, it can be observed. How can faith be observed?  It can be observed through making decisions with the confident expectation of God’s goodness.  This is how faith manifests in everyday life, when you make decisions with a confident expectation that God’s Word will do what it promises you. You will make decisions that are grounded in the peace and love of Christ. It is the opposite of making decisions based on fear, stress, anxiety, and worry, or through not believing God will do what He says in His Word.

Therefore, when we walk by faith and not by sight, it is meaning that we are living life making decisions with a confident expectation that God will do what He has promised in His Word.  We make decisions in life knowing that God is faithful, that we are loved, and that we are saved, healed, delivered prospered, protected, preserved, and made whole.  It means that we won’t make decisions based on fear, but in the security that God has everything under compete control.

So, do you walk by faith and not by sight?  Do you make decisions based on God’s faithfulness, or are decisions made with the motivation of fear and worry?

1 John 4:18 (KJV): There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.